Friday, August 22, 2008

It's a Hot Grape

Syrah and Shiraz - same grape, different name. It's a popular and adept variety, growing in multiple regions and creating many different styles of wine. For the first time ever is reporting that the revenue and unit volume of Syrah is outselling Chardonnay, the number one selling wine in the US. In fact, Syrah sales grew at 47% versus 2007!

The home base of Syrah is the Northern Rhone, where it creates the exclusive wines of Hermitage and Cote Rotie. On the less pricy side, the Rhone makes Syrah-based wines in Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas and St. Joseph. Syrah made a big splash in Australia, where it's called Shiraz and reigns as the most planted grape of the country. Washington State, Southern and Central California, South Africa and South America are also making wines from Syrah that have substance and style. Like many world-popular grapes, Syrah can differ in style depending on the climate, region and winemaking techniques. Typical aromas and flavors from most Syrah-based wines include pepper, blackberry and leather or smoke. Australian Shiraz and Central or Southern California Syrah tend to be more dense in fruit flavors, some even jammy - warmer climates lead to riper fruit flavors. Northern Rhone style typically shows more pepper and leather notes, with less upfront fruit. Washington State, South Africa and South America differ in style but usually show the range of Syrah flavors.

Syrah/Shiraz tend to be heavier as a general rule compared to pinot noirs, merlots and even cabernets. Also, most syrahs are meant to go with food especially grilled meats, wild game, and even pizza. On a personal note, most syrahs go great with dark chocolate! So try one out if you have never had one, you won’t be sorry!


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